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Summoning a soul from the stars

Come October, the children will outnumber the adults in our home. We found out Baby No. 3’s gender on Thursday.

“Don’t hate me if I’m wrong,” the ultrasound tech said. “But see that line? That indicates the vaginal lips. It looks like you’re having a girl.”

“Does she look ok?” my wife asked.

“She looks fine. Completely normal.”

Are there more powerful words in the English language?

Completely normal.

God, I hadn’t realized how badly I needed to hear that.

At the moment, she weighs 15 ounces, as much as a can of kidney beans. Later, the OB would tell us she’s underweight.

“She’s in the 14th percentile.”

“Should we be worried?” we asked.

The OB shrugged, palms pointed at the ceiling. “Maybe.”

“Should I eat more cake and ice cream?” Rachel asked.


She didn’t say that.

But she did ask if she needed to eat more.

“There’s nothing you can do,” the doctor said. “You certainly haven’t been restricting your calories. It’s out of your hands. We’ll just keep an eye on it. We’ll get you in for another ultrasound in four to six weeks.”

Thanks, doc.

Couldn’t we have left it at completely normal?

Actually, we are going to leave it at completely normal.

We’ll focus on more important things – like raising two toddlers (3 and 1) – and pondering important philosophical questions:

  • Why did we decide to have three kids?
  • Are we idiots?
  • Can we handle it?
  • Are we going to look like saggy ghost parents with bags under our eyes and vacant stares?
  • Do we already look like saggy ghost parents?
  • Did Percy really eat an entire can of Play-Doh?

I think about the Peter Principle in business. It says an employee gets promotions until he reaches the “level of his incompetence.” Surely, there’s a similar principle in parenting: you keep having kids until children services comes knocking.

Here’s the problem: you don’t know you’re incompetent until it’s too late.

That means we’re about to:
a) Go on the greatest journey of our lives; or
b) Check into Hotel California.

We’re rooting for A.

Our little ones have transformed almost everything I thought I knew about being human; about what it means to love someone, to be loved; about showing up; about making mistakes and making things right.

They’ve transformed my notion of wonder.

The OB pulled out her Doppler (yes, I had to Google it to find out what it was called). She squirted gel on Rachel’s belly and started searching. There was hiss and static. And then, suddenly, the room filled with a racing heartbeat.


The OB cocked her head like she was listening to Mozart.


Long, long pause.

And then, she said “it’s beautiful.”

How is such a thing possible?

We’ve summoned a soul from the stars. We have grainy photos of her face, her hands, her feet.

How much love can one heart hold? I wonder.

The answer is just one word.

It’s always “more.”

She is 22 weeks. “Her eyes have formed, but her irises (the colored part of the eye) still lack pigment.”

She has “tiny tooth buds beneath her gums.”

Her lungs are full of liquid. She’s “breathing” amniotic fluid.

She is completely normal.

And she is something else entirely.

Fredrick Marion

Fredrick Marion

I like books that refuse to let you sleep at night. I like coffee, talking animals and hearing from readers. Sign up for my email newsletter, and I'll send my latest blog posts to your inbox!

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